Prose and Verse World

"Words ought to open windows and lift souls."

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How do you write a sexy scene without being “over the top”?


There are times when your novel dictates that you must have a sexy scene in it but you don’t want to sound like you’re writing porn. I found this to be extremely challenging for me. Many Christian writers use the “closed door” approach, That is, a man and woman are kissing each other passionately and then they retire to the bedroom, usually closing the door behind them, leaving what happens next entirely to your imagination. On the other hand, there are novelists who give you a detailed description of exactly what happens in the bedroom, including naming every vital part of the anatomy several times. To me, this latter kind of novel is a definite turn-off. I am not building a house where I need step-by-step details.The former way of writing such a scene wherein the bedroom door closes shuts off any romance that takes place while they are “doing it.”  There surely must be a middle ground where the reader uses some of her imagination but also has enough description so she can get emotionally involved with the characters in that scene.

In all of my adult novels I do have scenes where some sort of physical intimacy is going on. However, being a devout Christian, I don’t want to write with such detailed description that I cause someone to sin, so this is a very difficult area for me personally. My only objective in creating a sexy scene is to make it realistic enough for the reader and to show the raw emotions which stem from such an experience.

I struggled, for instance, on how to describe a scene in my novel An Innocent Murdered, where a 46-year-old former nun named Susan has not only ever had intercourse but she’s never even seen a naked man. After all these years, she yearns for that experience and she asks Matt, a good friend, if he could help satisfy her curiosity.

After he turned to face her, she moved her hands to the front of his legs and gazed at his penis. “It’s quite small, isn’t it?”

He gave a nervous laugh. “Henry shrinks after I take a bath.”


“That’s what I call my pecker. Henry, please meet Susan. Susan, meet Henry.”

“Glad to meet you, Henry,” she said, still crouching as she used her thumb and forefinger to move his flaccid penis up and down like a handshake greeting. She examined the opening to his penis and giggled like a schoolgirl. “It looks like a small mouth.”

“I suppose it does. If I had a marking pen, I could entertain ex-nuns with it by drawing a nose and a couple of eyes and using it as a puppet.”

Her face turned crimson as she stroked his penis while touching his testicles. “I’m sorry, Matt. I’m probably embarrassing you by doing this.”

“No, not all.”

She looked up at him. “From what I’ve read, these testicles create the sperm while the penis ejaculates it into a woman’s vagina to create life. It’s wonderful the way God designed man for procreation. Isn’t it?”

“I can’t argue with that.”

She noticed his penis beginning to grow as she fondled it. “I mean, God produces human life from life. We’re all participants in the act of creation.”

“If feels as if I’m in a religion class right now.”

“Sorry. I can’t help but see God in everything. It’s a shame my parents never talked to me about sex.”

Susan can’t help but let her religion interfere with her desire for sexual intimacy. The scene closes with Susan having doubts as to whether or not she wants to go through with it. (I could have expanded this scene to show Matt entering her and how she moaned until she finally experiences her first orgasm, but I thought it would be better to make the reader guess what happened after she had her doubts.)

In another part of An Innocent Murdered, Matt has a romantic relationship with a woman who gives him a shocking revelation: she’s a lesbian who still likes men….

After they both undressed, she put on a CD that played something by Mozart. “You told me you enjoy classical music. This is his violin concerto.”

“I like it. When I first met Susan I tried to get more familiar with country and western.”

She climbed into bed. “Do you still see her?”

“Off and on,” he said, joining her. “She’s a pleasant woman.”

“When a man says a girl is pleasant it either means she’s not particularly attractive or he hasn’t yet scored with her.”

“I’d certainly like to score with you.”

“I hope you like the woman on top position. I enjoy taking the lead when it comes to sex.”

He grinned. “I like a woman with initiative.”

After fifteen delicious minutes flew by, they climaxed almost at the same time. Matt lay next to her in bed, stroking her hair and feeling her breast.

Heather turned toward him and giggled.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

 “I hope Cassandra’s not going to be upset when I tell her about we’ve just done.”

 “Cassie? What’s she got to do with us?”

“I suppose I should have told you sooner. She and I have been sleeping together for the past five years.”

“What!” he exclaimed, jerking up to a sitting position.

“Relax. Remember my telling you that sometimes a lesbian will make love to a man? This is one of those times.”

Again, I leave it up to the reader to determine what might happen next.

I experience a different sort of challenge in a scene I wrote for my Civil War historical novel, Sissy! In this particular scene, Lazarus, a 15-year-old former black slave who is now a Yankee soldier visits a prostitute named Rose. Lazarus knows people in Nashville hate him because he’s a Yankee and a Negro, and he has second thoughts about being here. When Rose discovers he’s a virgin and is extremely nervous about the situation, she calms him down….

“This your first time?” she asked, stroking his neck.

“Yes, ma’am.” How did she know?

She moved to the edge of the bed and sighed. “There’s always a first time for everything.” Her eyes focused on him with an intensity that made him uneasy. “How old are you, Lazarus?”

He didn’t care to lie anymore. “Fifteen.”

“Fifteen? That’s about the age I was when I lost my virginity. C’mon, sit next to me and relax,” she said, patting the mattress.

He lowered himself next to her, feeling her soft thigh pressing against his. “Why did the other ladies walk away from me, ma’am?”

“Don’t you know?”

“Because I’m colored?”

“Of course, honey. They probably figure you got some kind of disease or you’re a runaway slave or something. They only like to fool around with white men.”

Lazarus’s blood boiled. When will people stop treatin’ him different?

 “Know why I didn’t walk away?” she asked, drawing her face close to his.

He wondered about that himself. “Why?”

Just then, Emmett’s voice roared through the closed door. “Listen woman, no nigger Yankees here. Understand?” It sounded as if he were shouting at his wife.

Lazarus felt his pulse thumping inside his arms. Gots to leave. White man angry.

“Get outa here!” Lillian screamed. Then footsteps banging down the steps. An object hitting a downstairs wall.

“I’ll be back, woman!” Emmett shouted just before the outside door slammed like a thunderbolt.

Lazarus’s heart raced. He looked at Rose. She don’ look scared. Maybe it’ll be fine.

Rose, with a smile that seemed forced, ran her fingers over his body. “Good. He’s gone. That Emmett’s a little crazy at times.”

Lazarus took a deep breath. It be quiet now. “Ma’am, you were sayin’ about why you didn’t walk away—”

“Because I know what it’s like when people hate you,” Rose said. “People call me Miss Scarface because that’s the first thing they notice about me.”

Lazarus looked away for a moment. He didn’t want her to think he was staring at her. He knew what it was like for people to judge you by your skin.

“But,” she continued, “I’m still a human being, and I have feelings. It’s too bad people find me disgusting because they don’t like my face.”

Lazarus put his arm around her waist. “I don’t find yah disgustin’, ma’am.”

“Thank you for sayin’ that. Means a lot to me. Sometimes I think for a lady like me to look like I do is probably worse than being colored.”

Lazarus was about to disagree with her when she asked him to lie on his back. “I think you’re ready, Lazarus.” She knelt over him, cupping her breasts with her hands. “These are swollen with milk and they’re tender. So before we start foolin’ around, I want you to promise to be gentle.”

The slave woman he had seen six years ago flashed into his mind.

“I don’ want yah to die, child,” she had said, opening the top of her dress.

No, Lazarus thought, I now fifteen, I be a man now. Need to make love to woman. I be a man.

“It be milk for mah own child, but mah child gone now, so you drink from me.”

Lazarus’s mind darted from thought to thought. Did he want to make love to a woman? Or did he want the love of a woman?

He wanted the love, he reckoned, like the love he got six years ago. If he could only relive that moment in the barn with that woman—a complete stranger, escaping from her master.

“I loves you and wants you to live. Drink, lil’ boy. I gives you love’n food.”

Lazarus closed his eyes, trying to recapture that memory. Forget bein’ a man fer now. Be a boy again. Remember how sick you was? She gave you life. All comin’ back now. The hunger. The cold. Her smile. Her breast. Her words. The warmth of her milk on his lips.

Lazarus looked at Rose. “Ma’am, would it be proper for me to—?”

She frowned. “To what?” A smile formed on her face, and she shook her head in disbelief. “Well, I’ll be! Is that what you want?”

He nodded, embarrassed. This was a stupid request. He shouldn’t have made it. After all, he wasn’t a little baby, and women only nursed babies, didn’t they?

“Well,” she said, the look of surprise still in her eyes, “I guess there’s no harm in it, even though it is a little peculiar.”

“I understand, ma’am. Sorry I asked.”

“Wait. You’d be doin’ me a favor—but promise me you’ll be gentle.”

“I promise, ma’am.”

Rose patted his head as he drew in the warm, white fluid. It was like being nine years old again. In a cold barn, hungry, and the slave woman offering him her breast so he could survive. Her words came back….

“Your momma done get taken back. I wish I could be your momma, honey child.”

Rose pressed him closer to her. “You’re too young to be shootin’ with the men, aren’t you, Lazarus?”

He looked up at her. “I just play the drums, ma’am. But I really wants to fight. If I’m gonna die, I’d like to do it fightin’ rather than drummin’.”

“Truth be told, honey, I’m a Yankee at heart,” she whispered. “I don’t want slaves, cause I’m one myself, in a way. But you’re lucky, Lazarus.”

He looked up at her. “What yah mean by that?”

“Lazarus, you already got some of the Yankees fightin’ for your freedom. I ain’t got nobody fightin’ for mine.”

The fact that Lazarus wants the prostitute to feed him with her breast milk should not be taken out of context. As a child, Lazarus was saved from starvation when a pregnant woman offered him her milk-filled breast so he could live. I  had to bring out the details of this in the above scene so the reader could fully comprehend the tragedy of this situation.

I urge you to buy a copy of An Innocent Murdered,to discover ways I had to treat some delicate issues—like the molestation of a child or how the true murderer of the priest tried to seduce a detective by offering him her body.

Sex is one of the most powerful natural forces we know. It can be a beautiful thing, it can reveal our own struggles, and it can show how our emotions can overwhelm us when we participate in the act. It can also make us transform the real beauty of the naked form it into something dirty.  As a writer, I don’t mind showing how some misuse the power of their sex to dominate others, but I really would love to show readers the true beauty of a nude human being and the sexual pleasures that God Himself meant for us to enjoy in conjunction with His plan.

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